Skip to content

Posts from the "Bollards" Category

36 Comments

LIRR’s Brooklyn Bunker: More Extreme Than NYPD Counterterror Guidelines

Atlantic Terminal9_1.jpgSecurity barriers mar the Atlantic Terminal sidewalk. Image: Noah Kazis.

Brooklyn's new Long Island Rail Road terminal opened earlier this month to generally positive reviews for its airy interior. Outside the station? That's an entirely different matter.

The Brooklyn Paper called the "sarcophagus-sized slabs of stone" on the sidewalk -- which nearly come up to one's neck -- "a grotesque eyesore." City Council Member Letitia James agreed, telling Gothamist, "This is a facility that is supposed to celebrate openness, yet they put hideous barricades in front of it."

The barriers weren't in the original renderings for the site, which architect John di Domenico hoped would become a "civic presence." They were added after the fact for security, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

We're still trying to figure out just who decided to go for total overkill here. Requests are in with di Domenico + Partners, the NYPD, the MTA, and the Department of Design and Construction. While we haven't pinpointed exactly where the order came from, the fortress mentality on display exceeds even the NYPD counterterrorism division's own guidelines.

We did get to sift through the NYPD's 2009 report, Engineering Security: Protective Design For High Risk Buildings. As a major transit hub, the Atlantic Terminal falls under the NYPD counterterrorism division's "High Tier" category, for which they prescribe additional security measures. Those measures include "perimeter security," which the NYPD justifies like so: "The best way to minimize the impact of an attack is to keep the threat away from a building."

The NYPD also puts forward some basic guidelines about just how much protection they think is necessary. That's where the real surprise is. Here's what the city's counterterrorism experts recommend:

With respect to bollards, the NYPD recommends four feet of clear spacing, bollard sleeve to bollard sleeve. In general, New York City recommends that bollards measure between 30 and 36 inches in height.

And here's how the Atlantic Terminal sarcophagi measure up, based on an informal analysis conducted by Streetsblog today. The barriers loom a full foot higher than NYPD's own recommendations:

Height.jpgImage: Noah Kazis.
Read more...
26 Comments

The New Gansevoort: Pedestrian Godsend, Nightclubber Nuisance

nipple_plaza.jpg

A DOT team received a mix of gratitude and derision at Tuesday's public forum about recent pedestrian improvements in the Meatpacking District, which attracted an audience of about 100 people to the Housing Works offices on West 13th Street. It was an interesting window onto the competing interests now vying to shape what has been, from the beginning, a genuinely community-based project seeking to put pedestrians on equal footing with vehicle traffic.

Those who came to praise described the new sense of safety they feel walking around the area near Gansevoort Plaza. Those who came to scorn suggested rolling back those improvements in the hopes that livery passengers might not have to wait another minute or two to be dropped off right at their luxe destinations. The former enjoyed a two-to-one advantage over the latter among those who spoke, with much of crowd opinion resting with a sizable, aesthetically-driven middle ground -- people who professed support for street reclamation in theory, but just don't like the look of nipple bollards.

The goal of the meeting, said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, was to get "a sense of the overall feeling and a sense of what can be tweaked" about the project, which is slated to enter a permanent design phase this July, followed by construction the next year. There was no shortage of thoughtful ideas -- and clunkers -- for a neighborhood attempting to deal with the influx of cab and limo traffic on weekend nights. Taxi stands, anyone?

Read more...
15 Comments

Manhattan CB2 Unanimously Approves Eighth Avenue Cycle Track


The cycle track will replace the current buffered bike lane on Eighth Avenue.

In a pair of votes last week, DOT's plan for a protected bike path on Eighth Avenue got the thumbs up from Community Board 2. On Tuesday, the transportation committee approved a resolution expressing support for the cycle track, and on Thursday, the full board did the same. Both votes were unanimous.

The path will run from Bank Street to 23rd Street and is also set to be reviewed by Community Board 4.

Ian Dutton, vice-chair of the CB2 transportation committee, gives credit to DOT's public outreach effort. "They printed up brochures for [the plan], and went door to door," he said. "Instead of there being more uproar, at our meeting absolutely no one was there to express concerns." The twelve attendees who spoke about the cycle track all supported it, he added.

In the resolution, CB2 requested bell bollards for pedestrian refuges and leading pedestrian intervals at some intersections. DOT has shown more openness to such suggestions than in years past, said Dutton. "It's remarkable how much they're seeking our input instead of just dictating terms. They're asking the neighborhood what they think."

According to Dutton, DOT plans to complete the cycle track by November.

Photo: NYCDOT

36 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Gansevoort Plaza Open for Business (Updated)

gans002.jpg
The view of Gansevoort Plaza looking west.

Less than a month ago, the Meatpacking District's Gansevoort Plaza was a chaotic free-for-all for vehicles. Today it sports a large pedestrian space lined with planters and bollards. The Open Planning Project's Lily Bernheimer snapped these photos showing the new seating and street furniture in action, two weeks after capturing the construction phase. In terms of getting a good bang for the livable streets buck, this project seems like a real winner -- a quick and inexpensive reallocation of space.

UPDATE: DOT says this phase of the project cost about $90,000, plus labor. Construction took three weeks (they're laying down crosswalks and removing the construction barrels tonight). Also, we should note, while the implementation went by in a flash, an extensive community process led up to this point, going back to meetings held in 2005 between Project for Public Spaces and local businesses and residents.

More pictures after the jump.

Read more...
8 Comments

Lessons from Bogotá, Part III (9:58)



Peter Jackson ain't got nothing on Clarence Eckerson. Here is the third and final installment of Streetfilms' Bogotá trilogy based on the New York City Streets Renaissance team's visit with Gil Peñalosa in Colombia last September. Clarence writes:

You'll find lots of tasty video morsels including: riding some of the great ciclorutas and cycle paths, a visit to a thriving pedestrian-only street where they said it couldn't be done, a "bollard farm," mucho footage of the city's parks and public spaces and comments from the city's residents. And we couldn't resist -- just a wee bit more dance mania from the Recreovia.

If this is your first foray into Bogotá, you may want to check out these as well:

22 Comments

Let’s Chop Up Superblocks

ratzilla.jpg
Forest City's Atlantic Yards project would create two massive superblocks in Prospect Hts., Brooklyn

Portland, Oregon, which has ascended the ranks of cities judged most walkable, bikable, and urbane, benefits mightily from its small 200-foot square blocks, which provide businesses more street frontage and people more streets on which to bike, cycle and walk. These short blocks did not create Oregon's and Portland's growth management and pro-transit policies, but they gave them terrain on which these policies could take root.

Contrast that to Salt Lake City. Its founder Brigham Young for some reason opted for one of the widest urban grids anywhere. (I've read he wanted teams of cattle to be able to turn around?) Its streets are laid out in a grid where each blocks is 660 feet square - which means that nine Portland blocks to fill up one Salt Lake superblock. This makes getting around Salt Lake City on foot very difficult, as I can personally attest.

New York City is somewhere in the middle, at least in Manhattan. Its numbered streets are set at a pedestrian friendly 200 feet apart while its avenues are set at a pedestrian unfriendly 800 feet apart, except where broken in two by Lexington, Madison or other mid-grid streets. This deficiency has long been noted, so if anything the city should have a set policy creating new streets when possible, and so to create shorter, more pedestrian friendly blocks.

But that is not the case. Instead the city and state often encourage one of the deadest institutions, the Superblock. Not content with blocks that are too large already, the city and state often team up to create even bigger blocks, and not even pedestrian friendly versions of those.

Read more...
42 Comments

A Year After Eric Ng’s Death, Greenway Hazards Remain Unfixed

Chelsea.jpg

This piece was written by Transportation Alternatives:

On December 1, 2006, Eric Ng was riding his bike up the Hudson River Greenway. He was on his way to meet friends. He never made it, because a drunk driver named Eugenio Cidron took his life. After leaving a party at Chelsea Piers, Cidron got behind the wheel of his car and drove it on to the Greenway. Eugenio Cidron sped down the Greenway, a car-free path, for a mile at 60 miles per hour, before crashing into Eric Ng and killing him.

A little over a year ago, the government agencies that have something to say or do with the Hudson River Greenway, along with Transportation Alternatives, convened a task force to develop improvements that will reduce conflicts between drivers and Greenway users, but today little has changed on the ground. The Hudson River Greenway was never designed to have high volumes of cars and trucks crossing it. Regardless of whether or not government knew this when the biking and walking path was built, it knows it now and is often guilty of aiding and abetting the increase on driving across the path.

There are over a dozen City, State and Federal government agencies that have some say in what goes on along the Hudson River between Battery Park and 59th Street, but no one has taken charge. On the Greenway itself, it's a jurisdictional nightmare. The State DOT designed and built the Greenway and continues to be responsible for path redesigns. The City DOT maintains and times the traffic signals along the Greenway. The Hudson River Park Trust maintains the Greenway path. The NYC Parks Department tries to ensure design consistency between this Greenway and the ones it builds and maintains around the boroughs. There are myriad groups, including the City Economic Development Corp, the MTA, the Passenger Ship Terminal, Chelsea Piers and private ferry operators (who often drive buses across the path), that weigh in on the need for driveways across the Greenway.

Read more...
41 Comments

This is the Pedestrian Refuge Area That CB8 Refused to Protect


This scene was photographed by Flickr photographer BicyclesOnly on Saturday. Read his note below. Hopefully someone will ask members of Manhattan Community Board 8's transportation committee if this sort of car crash meets their rigorous aesthetic standards. Last January, CB8 rejected a proposal to physically protect Park Avenue's pedestrian refuge areas because they didn't think bollards, barriers or planters could be made to look pretty enough. Streetsblog readers will also remember CB8's transportation committee as the group that tried to kill DOT's crosstown bike route plan for the Upper East Side last summer. It looks like CB8 is still trying to kill it. The 91st Street bike lane is on the agenda of their December 10 meeting

This guy was driving too fast in the snow and apparently drove right up onto the Park Avenue Mall at 78th St. I didn't see the collision, but there were two ambulances there and the driver was fine, so he may have hit one or more pedestrians standing on the mall.

Ironically, on January 3, 2007 the Transportation Committee of Community Board 8 rejected a proposal to erect bollards on the Park Avenue Malls to protect pedestrians against this threat. The Community Board was concerned that the bollards might detract aesthetically from Park Avenue.

The driver (pictured) tried to prevent me from taking these photos, but he found that I'm not easily intimidated. I checked out his plates and found that this isn't the only illegal thing he's done with his limo lately:

  • 10 VG43 7323821939 08/24/2007 NO STANDING-EXEC. TRUCK LOADING 105.00
  • 11 VG43 7839654850 Hearing Pending 10/26/2007 NO STANDING-DAY/TIME LIMITS 115.00
  • 12 VG46 7326909738 Hearing Pending 10/23/2007 NO STANDING-EXEC. TRUCK LOADING 95.00
2 Comments

In Amsterdam Cyclists Always Get the Green Light


The green wave of Odense, Denmark.

Taking bicycle infrastructure to the next level, Amsterdam traffic engineers have created a "green wave"  along Raadhuisstraat. Cyclists riding at a speed of 9 to 11 miles per hour will never have to stop at a red light. Tests show that the cyclist "green wave" is helping buses move faster and is slowing down car traffic.

This same idea has already been implemented both in Copenhagen and Odense, Denmark. The video above shows how the system works in Odense, where green lights embedded in small bollards along the road alert cyclists to speed up or slow down to avoid the red light. News from Amsterdam reports:

On average, trams become about 1.5 minutes faster and buses moving out of the city centre about three minutes. Cars moving out of the city centre become three quarters of a minute slower. The municipality did not provide data as to the effect on cyclists' speed.

Marjolein de Lange of cyclists' organisation Fietsersbond tested the green wave and found that it works most of the times. However, she points out that most cars drive faster than 18 kmph, which means that they have to wait and then accelerate again at traffic lights, increasing air pollution. She suggests introducing an 18 kmph speed limit for all road users.

80 Comments

Truck Drivers Confusing New Cycle Track for Unloading Zone

9th-median.jpg

With construction of the new Ninth Avenue separated bike path in Chelsea still underway it is way too early to draw any conclusions about the project. The new medians and planting beds haven't been built, the markings aren't done and DOT still needs to install new traffic signals. Once the Muni-Meters are turned on, every other block will be reserved for paid commercial parking -- deliveries only. Likewise, DOT says that it is working with the police department on ramping up enforcement but that hasn't started yet either.

In the meantime, Streetsblog is getting quite a few reports of cars and delivery trucks planting themselves in the cycle track like some sort of invasive species that has found a new niche to conquer. On Friday afternoon Streetsblog reader Mike Epstein took a stroll up the avenue and found that New York City's nascent cycle track is rapidly becoming Chelsea's most popular delivery truck unloading zone.

Given the NYPD's near total disinterest in enforcing traffic laws on behalf of cyclists and pedestrians, is it too soon for DOT to begin pricing out retractable bollards? I don't think so...


The good news: He's not double-parked.


This van would look really good impaled on a retractable bollard.


Plenty of space to park an 18-wheeler.


More good news: Lots of new bike parking too.

Photos: Mike Epstein and LFreedman500 on Flickr